Make time to maintain your mental health
We are experiencing a once in a generation event and now, more than ever, we need to take stock of our mental health.
We all have a unique level of resilience and strength in the face of adversity based on factors such as our social connections, financial situation, life experience, health conditions, family history and exposure to past trauma. We will each react in our own way to the coming stress but no matter the level of resilience at this starting point we will all need to take active measures to protect ourselves.
Most people will be aware of the kind of activities that give themselves mental strength and increase their capacity to cope with stress but now you have to adjust these to the new social distancing environment. That means social outings such as movies, dinner with friends and team sports are off the table but there are plenty more you can engage in.
Common activities to build your mood include a daily exercise routine and a healthy diet full of nutrient-dense whole foods and lower on fast carbohydrates such as sugar and alcohol.
Mindfulness is a great capacity builder and it takes many forms, everything from fishing to knitting, gratefulness diaries and prayer, meditation to colouring and even quiet time reading with the kids.
Online self-help programs can build an awareness of your own mental health needs plus engaging with a counsellor or psychologist will be important for many as a way to maintain optimal psychological health and improve negative mood symptoms.
Don't forget to talk to your kids. They hear and understand more than most parents realise and they need honesty and clarity more than secrecy in these stressful times.
Human connections and conversations are a core component of wellbeing for all of us. For many of our most vulnerable, human and community engagement has now been reduced to almost nothing. Please make an extra effort to identify potentially isolated neighbours around you and reach out and engage with them. There are some great online resources for COVID-19 related stress with Beyond Blue, Lifeline and Russ Harris producing material that is worth investigating. If you are still finding the stress overwhelming, please reach out to your GP and mental health professionals as we will continue to be there to support you.
Originally published as Make time to maintain your mental health